Arizona is famous for its mild winter weather and cloudless skies with more than 350 days of sunshine every year. Tucson’s semi-arid steppe climate provides little humidity making it known for its infamous “dry heat.” With less than an average of 25% humidity annually, Tucson’s weather allows residents and visitors to enjoy the great outdoors without worry of inclement weather. Residents often say, “You don’t have to shovel sunshine” and they often tease family and friends back East or to the North by sending photos of beautiful Arizona winter days.
Tucson’s average daily temperature is a mild 83°. A winter in Tucson, which runs from November through March, sees an average daily temperature below 71° with lows in the high 30’s, which means the chances of a hard freeze are low and snow in Tucson is rare. The summer season brings on the heat between the end of May and the beginning of September when average daily temperatures jump to 95° or higher. The remainder of the year, the temperatures level out in the 80s and provide perfect weather for enjoying outdoor activities from gardening and hiking, to biking and golf.
During the hotter summer months in Tucson, something unique occurs in the Sonoran Desert: monsoon season. The word monsoon comes from an Arabic word, mausin, meaning “wind shift” or “season” and refers to the change in seasonal winds. The shift in winds produces precipitation causing the annual monsoon season, which generally begins in mid-June and runs through September.
A monsoon is caused when warm air creates low-pressure zones that draw in moisture from the oceans, generally the gulfs of Mexico or California. The monsoon thunderstorms can be quite impressive with loud quakes of thunder and fascinating displays of lightening that accompany the wind and rain. The monsoon storms, which typically roll in during the early to late afternoons, produces about six inches of rain or nearly half of the annual precipitation in Tucson.
Monsoon rains bring beauty and life to the desert, but can also be dangerous due to flash flooding. In a matter of minutes, natural rivers and washes, underpasses, bridges and streets can become an impassable torrent of rushing water. While warning signs are posted in many areas, each year several motorists find themselves trapped in dangerous situations because they ignored the signs. The general rule of thumb to find an alternative route if a body of water is larger than your car or a swimming pool. Another anomaly of the Sonoran Desert is the haboob. While rare, a haboob is a rolling swirl of dust and debris caused by shifts in the wind that can reach heights of up to several hundred feet.
With the beautiful weather found nearly year round in Tucson, residents tend to spend a great deal of time outdoors. Wearing a hat and sunscreen is imperative as is drinking an ample amount of water to stay well hydrated. The recommendation is that one should drink at least one liter of water every hour to stay properly hydrated. If one should become thirsty, chances are they are already dehydrated and should seek out water immediately. Many Arizonans learn to freeze water in a bottle to take along in order to stay hydrated and cool. Many people also tend to take advantage of the cooler morning and evening hours to get out and get their exercise before the heat of the day reaches its pinnacle between the noon and 3 p.m.